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In 2015, Florence celebrates the 150th anniversary of the start of its tenure as the capital of Italy. This is, then, the ideal occasion to stage an exhibition and produce a catalogue on Palazzo Spini Feroni, which played host to the City Council and was, therefore, the place where those important decisions were taken that endowed the city with its current layout.

Chiudi

In the mid-nineteenth century, the building found itself serving a public function for the first time, after centuries of private ownership, which began with Geri Spini – banker to Pope Boniface VIII – who wanted to manifest the power of his family through the construction of an imposing residence. As owners of the palazzo, the Spini were followed by the Guasconi, da Bagnano and Feroni aristocratic families, who commissioned magnificent decorative works, right up until the nineteenth century, when the dramatic palazzo became a luxury hotel, welcoming amongst many others Chancellor Metternich and Franz Liszt, before going on to become the seat of the Municipality of Florence, the site of the famous Gabinetto Scientifico Letterario G. P. Vieusseux and the unpretentious residence of remarkable individuals, such as Girolamo Segato, the scientist who was well-known for his practice of “petrifying” human cadavers. In the twentieth century, when Salvatore Ferragamo purchased the building, the palazzo was given a new lease of life, accommodating craft workshops and high-fashion ateliers, along with famous art galleries showcasing artworks ancient and modern. The exhibition encompass a number of prestigious artworks, endeavour to recount this complex history, benefitting from the input of specialists and of renowned set designer Maurizio Balò. The building, framed by the beauty of Florence, offers a snapshot of Italian culture and is today the global symbol of the Ferragamo fashion house, which is based there; this demonstrates that the talent of the Italians lives on thanks to the places where it is nurtured and works, providing proof positive that beauty generates beauty.

The symbol of this exhibition is inspired by a 360° view of Florence from the turrets of Palazzo Spini Feroni originally engraved by Ramsay Richard Reinagle for the 1806 publica­tion of “Journal des Luxus und der Moden” to be used as a diorama of the city for promotional purposes.

Anonymous Florentine, Genealogical Tree of the Spini Family
seventeenth century,oil on canvas, 207 x 147 cm. 
Private collection.

Giuseppe Zocchi, 
View of the Santa Trinita bridge and Palazzo Spini Feroni from the Lungarno Guicciardini,
 
c. 1741–42, oil on canvas, 76 x 90 cm. 
Fiesole, private collection.

Table countertop, before 1836. 
Surface made of maple inlaid with 214 “petrified” anatomical pieces. 
Museo di Storia Naturale dell’Università di Firenze, 
Biomedical Section (Anatomy), Florence

Enrico Pazzi, Head of Dante, before 1865, plaster. 
Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence

Lorenzo Bartolini, Franz Liszt, 1838–39, plaster. 
Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence

Mario Tozzi, Solitude
1931, oil on canvas. 
Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou (donation by M. Frua de Angeli, 1932), Paris

 

Primo Conti, Ritratto di Lyung Yuk (Portrait of Lyung Yuk), 
1924, oil on canvas. 
Galleria d’arte moderna di Palazzo Pitti, Florence

Video Installation inspired by the Diorama published on “Journal des Luxus and der Moden”. It shows 24 hours of life in Palazzo Spini Feroni, activities taking place, direct connection with the city area and its district. The same as it is on the Diorama showing the city central landscape seen by the top of its turrets.
Throughout internal and external views, sounds contrasting silence, the same reality with movement and stillness towards the up-to-date Diorama.


Conception and Direction
Vincenzo Capalbo, Marilena Bertozzi
Time: 6 minutes
Art Media Studio, 2015, Firenze

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